EJToday: Top Headlines
EJToday is SEJ's selection of new and outstanding stories on environmental topics in print and on the air, updated every weekday. SEJ also offers a free e-mailed digest of the day's EJToday postings, called SEJ-beat. SEJ members are subscribed automatically, but may opt out here. Non-members may subscribe here. EJToday is also available via RSS feed. Please see Editorial Guidelines for EJToday content.
Despite Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, some global oil prices fell. It turns out Iran's influence on the international oil market may be weak, and its threats more an effort to head off international sanctions that will harm its own weakened petroleum economy. Shipping lanes are just one of many major strategic factors affecting the global oil market. Iran has, however, offered spurious ammunition to U.S. politicians crowing for US acts of war against it. Right now, the news media are taking Iran's threats more seriously than the oil market is.
"MONTREAL -- Weapons-grade uranium is quietly being transported within Canada, and into the United States, in shipments the country's nuclear watchdog wants to keep cloaked in secrecy."
"Two teams of researchers who have engineered deadly and pathogenic flu viruses have reluctantly agreed to withhold vital details of their work for national-security reasons -- the first time any scientific team has been asked to do so."
"Honeywell and fertilizer maker J.R. Simplot have agreed to build the first commercial facility for Sulf-N 26, a granular fertilizer that is comparable to ammonium nitrate but would be ineffective as a bomb material. Ammonium nitrate combined with fuel oil was used in the bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995."
"Department of Agriculture researchers are working with rare plant pathogens that have the power to wipe out food crops that feed billions of people, or if harnessed and applied precisely, could control noxious weeds that have infested millions of acres of land."
Despite misleading and poorly sourced reports, it now appears that a successful and damaging cyberattack on a Springfield, Ill., water utility may have used a variant of the Stutznet worm. Reports have raised the question of whether the U.S. government, along with Israel, was involved in developing it.
"Up to three million people in Afghanistan are facing hunger, malnutrition and disease after a severe drought wiped out their crops and extreme winter weather risks cutting off their access to vital food aid, a group of aid agencies warned Friday."
"United Nations weapons inspectors have amassed a trove of new evidence that they say makes a 'credible' case that 'Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,' and that the project may still be under way."
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says that four members of a fringe militia used a book written by Fox News 'expert' Mike Vanderboegh as a basis for a plot to commit domestic terrorism. Federal law enforcement authorities on Tuesday arrested four Georgia senior citizens for allegedly plotting to kill government officials and spread terror with guns, explosives and the toxin ricin."
"Dozens of chemical companies and other industrial firms worldwide were hit this summer by highly focused cyberattacks controlled by Chinese hackers, according to a new report."
Ten years after the anthrax attacks that followed 9/11, the nation has spent some $60 billion trying to put together a biodefense program. One reason Americans do not know the scale of the government's failure is the extreme secrecy with which the programs are conducted. Profits, politics, and the manipulation of public fears may be making the nation's vulnerability to the worst public health threats even worse.
"ISLAMABAD -- Environmentalists are blaming climate change for the unprecedented massive monsoon rains in Pakistan, which so far this year have affected eight million people, claiming 350 lives and damaging 1.3 million homes."
"A sudden collapse of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could mean a breakdown in controls over the country’s weapons, U.S. officials and weapons experts said in interviews. But while Libya’s chemical arsenal consists of unwieldy canisters filled mostly with mustard gas, the World War I-era blistering agent, Syria possesses some of the deadliest chemicals ever to be weaponized, dispersed in thousands of artillery shells and warheads that are easy to transport."
"Top military brass, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the UN Secretary General have all warned that climate change will create conflicts in the future. But environmental shifts are already causing wars, argues a team of experts in a new paper in Nature published this month."
"The famine in the Horn of Africa is manmade - the result of artificially high prices for food and civil conflict, the World Bank's lead economist for Kenya Wolfgang Fengler told Reuters Tuesday."